This article discusses why effective resource allocation matters and how software can optimise your firm’s process.
What is resource allocation?
Resource allocation is the process of strategically selecting and assigning available resources to a task or project in support of business objectives.
In the context of accounting, allocation deals with the assignment of people and their skills to projects, also known as engagements. The essence of optimal resource allocation for any accountancy firm is matching the right people, with the right experience, qualifications, and skills with the right client and task, at the right time.
Resource allocation vs. resource scheduling
Allocation also considers the availability, capacity, and utilisation of resources across a firm but should not be confused with scheduling.
Scheduling is a crucial part of the resource planning process and usually follows allocation. After identifying and allocating resources based on the best match of skills and experience for an engagement, a resource manager will subsequently schedule these resources for a specific time and task.
The resource scheduling process should ensure that it schedules resources with the necessary skills, experience, and qualifications for the right task and at the appropriate stage of the engagement.
Why is resource allocation important?
Effective allocation should:
- Ensure work is divided evenly among all resources to prevent staff burnout
- Empower teams by ensuring resources have the skills, knowledge, and training necessary to complete allocated work
- Ensure engagement performance is optimised by matching the right resources, to the right task, at the right time
In the delivery of any project, poor allocation of resources will have a knock-on impact on overall performance. Lacking the right skills or knowledge on a project can result in the loss of efficiency, time, confidence, and motivation along the way.
In accounting, an optimal allocation process is key in order to empower teams, prevent burnout, and ensure engagement performance. In this context, allocation is not only an essential management process, it is also a critical lever for growth and success. Consistently allocating the right resources to the right tasks at the right time is crucial for successful and profitable client engagements. When a firm allocates its resources, it matches the dedicated resources to achieve client and business objectives.
Benefits of effective resource allocation
Getting it right isn’t always easy, but when done right, effective resource allocation can provide many benefits. Some of the key benefits include:
Poor allocation can contribute to a burned-out workforce. A survey of 1,222 UK accountants and ACA students from the accountancy wellbeing charity CABA found that two in five accountants feel too emotionally drained to work. When asked about the cause of the stress 33% reported either their work, career, or studies as the root cause.
Using the right allocation process, a firm can drive better utilisation, employee satisfaction, and retention simultaneously. An effective system will optimise resource utilisation rates without overburdening your people. Effective allocation methods prevent other capable and available resources from being overlooked, ensuring tasks are assigned both fairly and strategically. In addition, by taking into account individual preferences, interests, and career aspirations when allocating work, your firm can better support professional development and retention.
Resource managers focus on assembling optimal teams, blending industry experience with the right skills and accreditations for quality and efficiency.
Best is a subjective concept, but clients will expect to see individuals with the right qualifications and experience assigned to deliver their engagements. That means those with appropriate skills, insight, and knowledge relevant to the client’s specific business and industry. This could include a combination of technical skills or sector experience, with particular ‘soft skills’ required on top. But these skills do not all have to reside in one person, location or timezone. An optimal resource allocation system considers these details and identifies a team with the most suitable skills for each project stage. A resource management system that can utilise your people in the best way, will benefit staff and client satisfaction alike.
Allocating the right resource combinations for complex engagements demands thorough, up-to-date knowledge of your resources’ skills, capacity, and availability. It also requires the ability to accurately predict the impact that resourcing decisions will have on engagement performance.
In the long term, an effective allocation strategy can help your firm to strike the right balance between over and under utilisation of resources. Maintaining this balance reduces the risks of overburdening your team or overspending on resources that are not required. Allocating the right resources to the right engagement at the right time boosts efficiency and cuts the risk of overruns. The combination of greater visibility across all resources and engagement financials helps to ensure projects remain profitable and on schedule.
How can software optimise your resource allocation?
When you consider the number of moving parts required across multiple large scale client engagements, optimising resource allocation can be incredibly challenging. An intelligent resource management software solution can help your firm to overcome these complexities and allocate your resources strategically.
Reduce admin via automated best-match resource allocation
Resource management software can allow you to reduce the admin burden on your team and optimise your resource planning with automated best-match resource allocation.
Resource management software streamlines allocation by automatically identifying the best candidates using suitability scoring, considering skills, qualifications, availability, location, and key criteria. This automation increases efficiency, freeing up time for resource managers to focus on strategic tasks.
Easily explore alternative resourcing decisions with greater visibility
One major opportunity for optimising allocation is to assess resources across a wider pool of staff by centralising them in scheduling software. This enables consideration of skills, expertise, and availability at a national and global level, supporting more agile decision-making.
Unexpected changes or the sudden need for additional resources can occur. Intelligent resource management software enables firms to explore staffing options and adapt to changing demands without disrupting existing schedules. Enhanced visibility over available resources makes it easier to consider alternative resourcing decisions when needed. Filters and automated alerts help resource managers identify schedule clashes, allowing them to prevent or resolve conflicts in real time. Filters and automated alerts help resource managers identify clashes within schedules, enabling them to prevent or resolve conflicts in real time.
Track skills and preferences to support fulfilling careers
Resource allocation software can help your firm to support career development and staff retention efforts by allowing managers to consider skills and individual preferences when allocating work in the system. In addition to attracting and retaining talent, the ability to match skills and preferences to the work assigned will contribute to higher quality engagements and provide greater visibility of skill shortages.
Resource management software can empower teams by granting them greater autonomy in their work. During allocation, individuals can indicate their preferences for task types, engagements, or industries from available unassigned work that aligns with their grade, location, and business unit.
Increase transparency within the resource allocation process
A more diverse and inclusive workplace has far-reaching business benefits which research has shown to positively impact overall performance and productivity, staff engagement and retention, client relationships and firm culture.
We’ve previously written about the diversity problem in accounting and questioned how technology can play its part in redressing the balance. An automated allocation system reduces the chance of human bias or favouritism by emphasising capacity and best skills-experience match. With proper tools and governance, staff see that work is assigned based on set criteria rather than connections, preference or recency bias. Offering this transparency within the resource allocation process is increasingly important for creating a fairer and more inclusive workplace.
Regardless of your firm’s size, effective resource allocation hinges on identifying, matching, and utilising your team’s skills and capacity in line with client demand. The right resource management tools can boost profitability, client satisfaction, and team morale.
Frequently asked questions
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